Review: Parblo Coast13 Pen Display Graphics Monitor

Welcome to another pen display review. Today we look at the Parblo Coast13 that was sent over a few weeks ago by Parblo. Thanks!

The Parblo Coast13 is the latest addition to the pen displays from Parblo. The other pen displays before this were the smaller Coast10 and the larger Coast22.


The Parblo Coast13 sits in between Coast10 and Coast22 in terms of size and pricing. The price listed on Amazon currently is USD 255, USD 449 and USD 569 respectively for the different sizes. If you need something bigger, you have to pay a bit more for a much larger screen with the Coast22. The small size of the Coast13 means that if you want to bring this to your office to work, you can do it easily because it can slip easily into standard or medium size backpacks or messenger bags.


There isn't much included in the box, just the necessary stuff. There are the pen display, the pen and case, a cable, manual and driver disc.


Build quality of the Parblo Coast13 is good. It feels well built, sturdy. On the back are four small rubber feet. There's no stand so you have to use this flat or find some other way to prop this up (I recommend the Artisul stand that retails at USD 50), or you can find a big thick book (free).

The screen is matte and provides a nice texture to draw on. It has the right amount of friction for control. Not too slippery or rough. Just nice.

The TFT screen has decent colour reproduction. I coloured calibrated mine with a and recorded these readings: 95% sRGB, 75% Adobe RGB, 70% NTSC.

One downside to the screen is it's not very bright. I measured only 105 cdm2 at the maximum brightness. I guess you have to use it at 80-90% brightness. But over time it will become dimmer and dimmer. This is something to take note of especially if you plan on using this pen display a lot, and for a long time.

The 1920 by 1080 resolution on a 13.3 inch screen makes everything look sharper than on a larger screen. However that sharpness is somewhat affected by the matte screen. Glossy screens are usually sharper so it's not too surprising here.


There are 8 physical shortcut buttons and a scroll wheel on the side. The buttons have a firm feedback when pressed. The scroll wheel's surface is a bit too smooth so sometimes it's difficult to get enough friction to actually turn it. I guess after you use it often enough, the finger oil will cause the surface to be more glossy and there will be more friction, but not when it's brand new.


This is the only cable provided. On one end there are three heads: 2x USB type-A and full-size HDMI. On the other end there are mini-HDMI and USB type-C.


The USB ports provide the power to tablet and also enables the data connection that allows the computer to recognise the monitor as a tablet to draw on. If your computer's USB port has sufficient power, you just need to use one of the USB type-A head instead of two.

Since the cable only supports HDMI, you will need an adapter if your computer only has use miniDisplay or DVI ports.

After plugging in all the cables, the tablet will be powered and connection detected automatically. AKA plug and play.



The pen case provided is rather sturdy. You can use it to transport and protect the pen.


The pen is also well built. It has a nice weight and feels good to hold in hand. There's no rubber grip but the matte surface is not slippery so it grips well in hand.

The pen supports 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity.


There are two side buttons but the driver only has the ability to customised the one nearer to the nib. The other button is permanently disabled.


That's the nib. 6 replacement nibs provided.


This pen does not require battery to work. So you don't have to charge it. It's just like those battery-less Wacom pens. At the back of the pen is the eraser. The eraser is not as sensitive as the nib so you have to press harder to get it to work.

Driver

Driver installation is pretty straightforward. On the Mac, after installation, the driver settings is hidden as a small icon at the taskbar at the top.


You can customise your own keyboard shortcuts for the physical shortcut buttons. On the Mac, you need choose the ⌘ Mac key symbol which will allow you to input your own keys.


This is where you can customise the pressure sensitivity and side button.

The pressure curve can only be adjusted with the slider at the bottom. As mentioned earlier, only the side button closest to the nib can be customised. The other button is permanently disabled.


This is where you can calibrate the screen to remove parallax error. The glass is a bit further away from the screen than I like it to be, relatively speaking compared to other pen displays, so there's quite a bit of parallax. But after calibrating, parallax is not a big issue.

Here's the deal breaker for left handed users. The driver does not have the ability to change the orientation of the pen display. Hence this pen display does not support left handed use. I've contacted Parblo and they said they may update the driver in the future. Left handed users might want to check out Artisul D13 instead.

Drawing performance

Drawing performance is fantastic. I like it when devices work without problems and such is the case here.

Parblo Coast13 works well with Photoshop CS5, Illustrator CS5, Medibang Paint Pro, Mischief, Affinity Photo and Tayasui Sketches Pro. Those are the graphics drawing software I use on my Mac.

Drawing on the pen display feels responsive. There's is minimal lag between drawing and the strokes appearing.


This is Photoshop CS5 (Mac). Pressure sensitivity works well. The transition from thin to thick is predictable. Hatching strokes taper well. Strokes are also very smooth.


Pressure works fine with Adobe Illustrator CS5.



Medibang Paint Pro works flawlessly too.


Pressure works in Krita too.

The scroll wheel works as zoom with the two Adobe apps. With Medibang Paint Pro, it scrolls the canvas. With other apps, the scroll wheel does not work at all.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a decent product for the price. It works well. I did not experience any bugs so that's fantastic. The pressure sensitivity works really well. What surprised me was how well it worked with Photoshop, especially with the smooth lines it can create. The build quality is also quite good.

There are some downsides also. This tablet does not support left handed use. That may be the deal breaker for some. The scroll wheel needs more friction on the surface so that the finger has something to grip on to easily turn it. The scroll wheel functionality cannot be customised, and it performs differently in different software. There's also no way to customise the 2nd button on the pen.

The Parblo Coast13 is currently USD 449 on Amazon USA. The Wacom Cintiq Pro 13 is USD 999. The price difference is significant. I'm not sure if you can feel the USD 500+ difference when it comes to drawing functionality. The Wacom may be better built with extra features (e.g. tilt sensitivity, stand, better screen, finger gestures) but if you don't need those features, you can save quite a lot of money. The Coast13 and Artist D13 are comparable in price. There's also the XP Pen Artist 16 which is USD 489 but that has a glossy screen which isn't as nice to draw on as a matte screen.

Pros and Cons

+ Good build quality
+ Matte screen nice to draw on
+ Tactile buttons with good feedback
+ Can be powered by USB 3 port
+ Cheaper than Cintiq 13HD
+ Runs cool, only the bottom middle is slightly warm
+ Wireless and battery-less pen
+ 6 replacement nibs provided
+ Pressure sensitivity works great
+ Strokes are smooth and taper well
+ 1920 x 1080 resolution is sharp on this 13.3 inch screen
- Parallax exists, corrected by calibration
- Mac drivers cannot customize the scroll wheel, pen's one side button
- Scroll wheel a bit difficult to turn because the surface does not have friction
- Only HDMI port so you might need an adaptor
- Does not support left handed use
- Matte screen affects the sharpness slightly
- Screen brightness could be an issue in the future

Availability

You can find more reviews and the Parblo Coast13 at these links below. Purchases though the links get me a commission at no extra cost to you, and helps me put out more reviews like this.
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.es | Amazon.co.jp

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1 Comment

The biggest problem I've

The biggest problem I've heard about this tablet is that the initial activation force is too high. How do you think someone who uses light strokes would fair using this tablet? Also how do you think it compares to Huion's pressure curves?

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